Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Road Trip Wonders...Traveling with Little Ones

Happiest of Wednesdays to you! I am LOOSING MY MIND being patient and kind as we potty train over here and I can't begin to imagine the blog post I've comin' for you on that.  I was reading the Three Day Method PDF and the woman said she actually enjoys potty training. I'm like HOW IN THE WORLD CAN YOU ENJOY THIS? I feel like this should be added to sleep deprivation as Navy Seal training G held it SO long today (right into the ever important nap time) that I pretty much pulled the ole frat boy trick and stuck his hand in a cup of warm water.  AND IT WORKED Y'ALL. (I text this to my hubby today and I hope it didn't show up during a power point because that's happened before.)

Anyway...that's for another day and time.  Since I'm clearly not the one to be teaching you about potty-training, I will pass on some tips about road trips. With Spring Break behind us and Summer now before us, it's got my mind on traveling!

We've flown a good bit, but nowhere longer than an hour, so I don't think I can really offer up extensive help on flying with a baby. (That post would be for my cousin who trekked back and forth with her babe from Hawaii or my friend who took their 4 and 2 year old to Finland. FINLAND. For the record, she said ALL THREE of them were sobbing on the final flight to Dallas.)

We have made our share of road the newborn, infant, and now toddler stage. There are some things that are easier and harder about each one.

Here's my first tip:

1) Buy and SUV. Downgrade if you have to. Stop thinking you can make it work with the car. The first time we headed home for Christmas in the Camry and I was trying to nurse in the back seat with the huge carseat in the middle and the dog on the other side, I was done. A captain's seat for nursing in the car would have been a WINNER. And OH HOW I LOVE changing a diaper in the back area of a SUV. How annoying is it to have to take the baby and all the gear in the pit stop, balance your diaper bag on the Koala station (WHERE ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO PUT YOUR STUFF ON THESE THINGS?!) and then try to somehow wash your own hands with a baby on your hip?

See? The dog has plenty of room, right? ; ) This was actually only an hour and a half trip...hehe

2) If you're stopping along the way....I've got a few tips for that. Up until G was a toddler and could be entertained in the car, we actually stopped halfway and spent the night. (Our trip to MS is about 9 hours total, so we'd stop in Ruston.) After 4 hours he was tired of being in rear facing car seat and I was tired of dangling things in his face and singing songs. Plus he wouldn't take a bottle so stopping to nurse turned a 9 hour trip into a 13 hour trip. So we would typically leave after J got off work, drive a few hours, and while I was doing the nighttime routine, J would go grab us some take-out so it was quiet and felt routine.

I feel like this goes without saying, (but if you're traveling with an infant, you're probably not thinking straight anyway), but PACK SMART. If you need to pump, have ONE bag with ALL your pump stuff in it.  (Buy some of those steam bags to clean the parts or bring some dish detergent to soak in the sink.) Then pack ONE bag (that's easy to get to) with everyone else's stuff they'll need for that one night. (We learned this the hard way going back and forth to the car for things.) Always use the hotel's roll-in cribs so you don't have to unpack/set up the pack-n-play. They are actually really nice! If you're spending the night in a regular hotel room, I will advise you to bring a HUGE quilt or sheet to put over the crib after you put them down to make it dark. That way you can play on your iPad/phone/computer without the bright light shining and keeping up the cherub. Also, bring the sound machine and put it right under the crib! It's so hard to stay quiet in a small hotel room! I will admit, it feels a little constricting if your babe goes down early, but honestly, we'd take this opportunity to go to bed early too. Now-we have not yet stayed in a regular hotel room with Greyson as a toddler yet! He's too big to put a quilt over the crib since he can stand up. That'd just be weird. So I'm happy to take any post-infant hotel tips!

3) Car entertainment.  So here's where it gets tricky. Road trips are easier with babies that are pre-toddler because they are typically still in-and-out of several naps. Plus the rear facing car seat keeps them from seeing things to keep them awake. Greyson would sleep long segments of time when he was pre-toddler.  The HARD part is when they ARE AWAKE, they're hard to entertain.  If you're exclusively breast-feeding, you have to stop. I was scared to feed Greyson a bunch of snacks when he was in the rear-facing seat even when he got older.  So you don't have that to keep them busy.  So it's pretty much a lot of booking reading and songs.

Road trippin' with a toddler is easier because you've got the whole DVD player now part of the game. And listen. Don't feel guilty. Put your "no screen time limit" vacation hat on and go with it. Bring the movies.  ALL THE MOVIES. Our car didn't come with a built in DVD player, so my parents gave Greyson this one for Christmas and it's perfect!

It's even a touch screen with WiFi capability, so you use this anywhere really! (Perfect with some earplugs in that hotel after they go to bed!)

My mom also sent us this fabric tray that attaches to his car seat. Y'all, this was an absolute live saver! It's got pockets on the side for his snack and sippy and as you can see also served as a little "play station".  He used this the entire trip, I honestly don't know what we would've done without it.  I actually keep it in the car at all times and if I know we'll be somewhere late that G needs to eat lunch in the car, I take it! It's great!

Now that G is older and more into coloring/crafting, I've got my eye on this KIPTOP Backseat Organizer/Tray. 

Of course a variety of snacks and toys are key.  I brought a few of G's favorites, but also hit up the Dollar Tree for a "Treasure Chest".  I like to have something fresh and new for every hour of travel. (This doesn't have to be big, seriously, go to the Dollar Tree.)  The fresh new thing will keep them busy for 20 minutes and then you can tell them if they behave, they'll get another treasure in 40 minutes! For our Christmas trip, I actually had a couple of gifts wrapped under the tree that he hadn't opened yet.  So I grabbed them at the last minute and when I felt like he was getting fussy, I let him "open a present".  Just these words are gold y'all. This was very exciting for him and bought us some time!

For adult entertainment (that sounds shady I know), Jeremie and I love to listen to books on CD.  You can rent them from Cracker Barrel and return them to any Cracker Barrel location when you're done. (Some libraries also have these you can check out.) This really makes the time past by quickly.  We love a murder mystery or John Grisham. (His usually last us all the way to MS and back!)

4) Stop and take a breather. Even if this adds an HOUR to your trip. Swing into Target for trip down the $1 aisle, new snack, or fun magazine. We stopped at Chic-fil-a to let Greyson get some wiggles out, and even though it (shockingly) didn't result in a long car nap, he had a blast, and we had fun watching him. (Especially my hubby-I forget, he doesn't get to join us on the 5,472 trips to Chic-fil-A.)It reminded me that the trip was supposed to be fun! And most likely, the stops along the way are what G will remember and love the most about road trips.

I hope some of this helped you starting planning and thinking about your road trip with the little ones! Remember they'll be some wins, some losses, and at the end of the day, it's all trial and error with kiddos, right?  Our next big trip is coming up in July, so I'd LOVE to hear any tips or tricks that YOU have!


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